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Daughter immortalises Vusi Ximba’s music

Written by: Owen Mngadi

In an extraordinary research paper, Nonjabulo Ximba, the daughter of the late legendary musician Vusi Ximba, analysed her father’s songs for her dissertation to earn her Master of Arts degree from the University of KwaZulu-Natal (UKZN).

And to keep it authentic, she opted to write in isiZulu, the language her father used in his comic-style music.Nonjabulo Ximba proudly analysed her father’s songs in order to obtain her Master of Arts degree from UKZN

Vusi, who passed away in 2011, narrated real stories into songs. With his signature humour and concertina mastery, the Pietermaritzburg songwriter and satirist recorded over 10 albums, having launched his career by singing in taxi ranks and staging concerts.

His music was banned from many radio stations because his uncensored stories were about sensitive and thorny issues.

Nonjabulo says she wanted to pay homage to her father while preserving his original work. She says her father’s music is no longer available in music stores and says she is concerned that it may fade completely, which is why she chose to analyse it. 

For her dissertation, she analysed 47 of his songs, transcribing and analysing the lyrics. Her findings indicate that ‘while some listeners thought Vusi’s music is profane, musical experts have concluded that it is very humorous and touches on subjects very few musicians dare to explore, including sex, prostitution, witchcraft, lies and dishonesty’.

Her dissertation findings also show that while her father’s music did not receive the same acclaim as other top artists, there was something to be learnt from his body of work.

While her topic proposal was done in English, she says she realised that writing the thesis in English would dilute the true version of her father’s music. “I pride myself on being an African and I embrace isiZulu, but the most important thing was to keep my father’s legacy as it is. It will now be archived, and I want the next generations to read the real version [of his work].”

Nonjabulo says she aims to publish four journal articles from her dissertation. Her ultimate goal is to release a book based on her father’s music.

She is currently a part-time lecturer at UKZN. She also has a Bachelor of Social Science Degree and a Postgraduate Certificate in Education, majoring in isiZulu.

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